February 18-28, 1867

Journal Entry 32: February 1867

Highlights from the Journal of Edwin Mitchell, Vol. II:

Feb. 18: "After breakfast I washed myself and took off my underclothes, as it is a getting quite warm....The Capt. and mate are worried for fear we will get in New York before they get the work all done such as painting, holystoningHolystone

A soft sandstone used to scrub the deck of a wooden ship. The word can be used as a noun or as a verb.
, scraping the sparsSpar

A round timber or metal pole used for masts, yards, booms, etc.
, etc. They think more of having the ship look nice than they do of making a quick passage."

Feb. 19: "I expect they will keep all hands now as we are in fine weather. All they study on is to get as much work out of us as they can and to make the eatables go as far as they can by stretching."

Feb. 20: "The Capt. tried to smoke the hogs hams, he hung them in a barrel and put some chips in under them, but they did not smoke as much as they might, they roasted the same as if they had been in an oven. The Capt. just caught a shark. We have been becalmed all day."

Feb. 24: "This afternoon I have been a mending my clothes and boots. In the dog watchDog watch

Two half watches of two hours each into which the period from 4 pm to 8 pm is divided. The purpose of dividing this watch into two parts is to produce an uneven number of watches in 24 hours, 7 instead of 6. This ensures that watchkeepers in ships, whether organized into two or three watches, do not keep the same watches every day. These two watches are known as the First Dog and Last Dog.
I took a sailor's pleasure, overhauled my chest and read my old letters."

Feb. 25: "This forenoon I had what us boys call a sailor job (for it is seldom I have one.) helped set up the main topgallantTopgallant t'gallant

The square rigged sail immediately above the topsail. The topgallant is set from the top of the topgallant mast. A staysail set on a stay running forward and downward from the topgallant mast is called a topgallant staysail.
and royal backstaysRoyal backstays

Backstay refers to standing rigging from a mast to the deck behind the mast. Royal backstays run from the Royal sail
....Saw a French barkBark

A sailing vessel with three masts; square-rigged on the fore and main masts and fore-and-aft rigged on the mizzen.
this morning steering to the eastward, probably bound around the Cape of Good HopeCape of Good Hope

The southern tip of Africa. European discovery was by the Portuguese Bartolomeu Dias in 1488. The Dutch East India Company established a base there in 1652 which became a Dutch Colony.

Feb. 28: "This morning at seven o'clock we spotted the ship Nevada from Boston bound to San Francisco, this afternoon I have been picking oakumOakum

A caulking material made of tarred rope fibers.
. Light wind. Saw a sail aboard in the same tackTack

The side of the sail against which the wind is blowing. The vessel might be described as being on a port tack or a starboard tack.
. The brigBrig

Vessel with two masts; both square-rigged.
which we saw to leewardLeeward

Downwind from the point of reference. The leeward side of a vessel is called the lee side.
passed us. This afternoon I finished scraping my chest, turned in at four bells. In the dog watch I beat oakum until two bells, then helped the carpenter....We are nearly becalmed tonight. The Nevada was twenty-nine days out."